Why This Website?

From Dr. McKenna:

Welcome. This website is intended to give scientifically –based information, provide downloadable scientific articles, as well as provide access to educational PowerPoint presentations and television appearances about my work on mother-infant cosleeping and breastfeeding. Throughout these various outlets I explain the basis of the “cosleeping debate” and to answer FAQs as regards western infant sleep and feeding issues, with an emphasis on mother-infant cosleeping, breastfeeding, SIDS/SUDI risk factors, and prevention, all in relationship to sleeping arrangements including separate- surface-cosleeping and bedsharing.

My intention with this website is to provide information that altogether can provide a basis for further clarifying the important role that mother-infant cosleeping and breastfeeding has played and continues to play in contemporary life, but also why it induces so much discord and discourse in the scientific and medical communities as well as in popular culture.

No doubt the choice of whether to sleep with your baby or not, and in what way, is highly controversial in Western society, especially when ‘cosleeping’ occurs in the same bed as the parent(s). Potential safety issues that arise with sharing a bed with an infant continue to can make the adoption of this sleeping arrangement complex and tricky. It is a decision that is most safe when the mother is breastfeeding an infant (rather than bottlefeeding), in my opinion, but also requires that specific conditions exist and deliberate precautions be taken in order to maximize safety for the infant and parents. That information is also included on this website in the Safe Cosleeping Guidelines.

This website will have succeeded if it is of good use to parents as they are the ones, rather than medical or public health officials, who must ultimately decide where and how their infant will sleep. Parents can make the best decisions when they are fully informed, I believe, and to do so they should be exposed to and aware of all of the issues - not just to the ones ‘external authorities’ deem sufficient. I firmly maintain that informed parents and not external authorities (medical or otherwise) are and should be in the best position to know exactly in what ways and why various forms of cosleeping will or will not work (and be safe) for their infant and their particular situation. This civil right belongs to parents; the right to be in charge of their own infant or child care decisions and it needs to be protected as it is crucial both for our democracy and to promote confident, healthy and happy families.

In addition to helping parents make the best and most appropriate decision for themselves, the information provided here should also be of use to educators, health professionals, public health officials, the media, sleep researchers, child protective services, coroners, forensic pathologists, anthropologists, psychiatrists, psychologists and other social scientists, as well as researchers in a variety the developmental fields including human biology.

On a practical note, and if possible, it might be useful to listen to my interview given shortly after the American Academy of Pediatrics released it’s paper in 2005 recommending against any and all bedsharing, one form of cosleeping. A variety of subjects are covered in that interview pertaining to infant sleep in general, the politics of that decision, as well as the relevant issues pertaining to whether or if and under what circumstances is it safe to sleep in bed with an infant, and if so, how to minimize risks.